Joanna Mole, 47, admitted illegally pocketing £44,500 in child tax credits, £27,000 housing benefit and £1891 in council tax support between 2010 and 2016
A woman scrounged £73,000 in handouts over a six year period by posing as a single mother.
Joanna Mole, 47, admitted illegally pocketing £44,500 in child tax credits, £27,000 housing benefit and £1891 in council tax support between 2010 and 2016 without disclosing she was living with her husband Steven.
Judge Angela Nield said the benefits system was ‘cumbersome, overrun and creaking’ and ‘all too often open to misuse.’
Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, heard how the couple had temporarily split up and she claimed handouts on the basis she was a single parent in sole care of their two sons.
But he moved back in their home in Walshaw, Bury, Greater Manchester – and she continued claiming her single person’s allowances until she was caught in 2017.
Mole who had credit card debts later claimed had used the money to ‘make ends meet’ like a so-called ‘Jam’ – a term coined by Teresa May to refer to those who are ‘just about managing.’
Mole admitted admitted two counts of dishonestly failing to notify of a change in circumstances that affected her entitlement to social security benefit and one charge of being concerned in falsely claiming tax benefits.
But she wept as she was spared jail and instead given an eight month prison term suspended for two years. She was also ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing Judge Nield said: ‘The benefit system in this country is unique in the world, it is however cumbersome and very heavily reliant on those who claim from the system. All too often it is open to misuse.
Mole (pictured) admitted admitted two counts of dishonestly failing to notify of a change in circumstances that affected her entitlement to social security benefit and one charge of being concerned in falsely claiming tax benefits
‘It is not easy to detect claims of this nature which are made fraudulently which results in large amounts of money being taken from this system which is already overrun and creaking.
‘This is one of those offences where this court is urged to consider very carefully the elements of deterrence. I am clear that the only choice this court has is to impose either an immediate custodial term or to suspend a custodial term.
‘You falsely claimed these payments over a prolonged period. These offences without questions cross the custody threshold.
‘The failure to notify a change of circumstances is a common offence, it is easily committed.
‘But you have no previous convictions and you pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, it is now almost two years since you indicated in writing your admission of all the allegations made against you.
Sentencing Mole (pictured) the judge said: ‘The benefit system in this country is unique in the world, it is however cumbersome and very heavily reliant on those who claim from the system. All too often it is open to misuse’
‘There are no aggravating features about you or this offence. There is no evidence that you used this money to live an extravagant lifestyle, you used this money to make ends meet and did so because of a woeful ability to manage finances.
‘There are a number of people who will be immediately affected by you going immediately to custody. Your personal circumstances cannot be ignored in these circumstances.’
Earlier prosecutor Denise Fitzpatrick said: ‘This defendant failed to notify that she was sharing a common household with her husband Stephen Mole, which would have affected her entitlement to housing benefits and tax credits.
‘In total, she received over £73,000 in benefit to which she was not entitled over a period of over six years. She had claimed tax credits from September 2004 to February 2017.
‘They were paid in the basis that she was a single parent in sole care of two children and that she was in a low-paid job with no other source of household income.
‘They were paid on the basis that she needed to notify any changes in the circumstances that would affect her entitlement to her benefit. She was claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit from May 2008.
‘She failed to declare a change in her circumstances to HMRC and to Bury Council that change was that she had been living as a married couple and maintaining a common household with her husband Steven Mole from May 2010.
‘She said she had enquired what would happen if her ex-partner had moved into her home. She said they had separated years ago and he had moved away but then he got back in touch with her.
‘Had she disclosed that she was maintaining a household with him, who was in remunerative work, she would not have been entitled to the benefits. Her husbands wage from his employer were paid monthly into his wife’s account.
‘She was interviewed and she acknowledged that she needed to report a change in circumstances and that she had notified when her son had become an apprentice. She said she had enquired what would happen if her ex-partner had moved into her home. She said they had separated years ago and he had moved away but then he got back in touch with her.
‘In the interim period she sent a letter to one of the officers that she had been living with her husband.’
In mitigation Mole’s lawyer Michael Lea said: ‘There is no evidence that she lived an extravagant lifestyle. She is extremely remorseful for what she has done.’